Science, technology and medicine are among the most significant and influential forms of knowledge and practice in modern society. Understanding how these activities have influenced society, and how society in turn has shaped their development, is thus an important task. A particularly effective way to acquire such understanding is through history: studying how and why science, technology and medicine change over time.
The history of science, technology and medicine (HSTM) has been taught at major universities in Britain, Europe and North America for about fifty years, and continues to attract students for a variety of reasons. Many sixth-form students have an interest in both science and arts subjects, and would like to continue studying both at degree level. Some are attracted by the particular historical questions we explore: when did globalisation begin and why? Why is medicine now dominated by a scientific perspective? How has our understanding of heredity been transformed over the last century? Others turn to HSTM in order to gain perspective on contemporary issues: for instance, the pros and cons of nuclear power, the increasing reliance upon computers in society, or the introduction of genetically modified organisms.